What do you get when you combine the time traveling elements of Chrono Trigger along with the gameplay and art style of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? Perhaps something like the game we are about to take a look at, Timespinner. by Lunar Ray Games
Platforms: PC (Steam), PS4, PS Vita/TV
Developer: Lunar Ray Games
Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Metroidvania, Platformer, Sci-Fi.
Themes: Time Travel, LGBT.
Length: 8-12 hours (First playthrough)
Plot Summary: With her family murdered in front of her and the ancient Timespinner device destroyed, Lunais is suddenly transported into an unknown world, stranded with seemingly no hope of return. Using her power to control time, Lunais vows to take her revenge on the evil Lachiem Empire, but sometimes the course of history isn’t quite as black and white as it seems…
On the surface the main story is a classic revenge plot starring a rightfully enraged heroine on her quest through time to restore balance to the world by writing the wrongs of an evil empire but is mostly clouded by thoughts of vengeance. However, as she gathers more information across time she learns there is more to what is going on than worlds ravaged by a war against the empire. It is also a story about the history, culture and people of a certain world and how it can be/is changed by Lunais’ actions. Whether it is for better or worse players will have to see for themselves.
Lunais herself is a cool heroine and the latest chosen “Timespinner” whose duty is to travel through time to “fix” whatever wrongs they find in history…but at a potentially great cost. Besides that Lunais also meets with an interesting group of people who, depending on whether she accepts to help them with their requests (More on that later) will have a large impact on her life. Basically they are all very interesting people. There are also other interesting allies and foes she will meet on her journey.
Next up is the presentation. As the above images show and is described in the Timespinner homepage it was inspired by 90’s Super Nintendo games, specifically ones by Squaresoft and Enix. I would say they captured the look quite well in the graphics department. The soundtrack is a mix of SNES style and modern tunes with good ambiance tracks along with some nice boss themes. It has a mix of medieval fantasy in the past and gloomy cyberpunk in the future. Both done well.
Next up let us go over the gameplay. Thing is there is not much to add that I have not already done in my Rabi-Ribi and Iconoclasts reviews. It is a Metroidvania style game, which means an action-platformer traversing a 2D landscape with connected fields, towns, bases, dungeons etc. Lunais moves smoothly and there was never a moment I got hit or KO’ed by no fault of my own. If I got a Game Over it was because of my own mistakes. That is a good thing as it means the controls are good. Throughout her journey Lunais acquires key items, power ups and upgrades. Some of them obviously hidden. These not only help make her stronger but allow her to reach previously inaccessible areas by using moves such as a double jump and a magic dash. There are also hidden pathways accessed by breaking them with Lunais’ various Orbs.
Besides power ups and upgrades Lunais’ primary weapons consist of shape shifting Orbs of different colors and abilities from the default Orb Jab to ones that can shoot lightning. Newly acquired Orbs come in pairs meaning players can equip, for example, a Lightning Orb and an Axe Orb if they so wish. There are also Super/Charge Orbs, which determine what kind of charged attack Lunais can use such as a Kamehameha like attack or a giant blade. The different colors also means enemies have different weaknesses and resistances.
The Normal difficulty is a solid one that is not too easy though not incredibly difficult either. I did not get some Game Overs on my first playthrough but there is an unlockable Hard difficulty for an extra challenge. Bosses in the game are pattern based, meaning players who pay attention after a few tries can eventually overcome them without taking damage or using their Time Stop.
Next part of the gameplay is Lunais’ time abilities. The first one being her ability to travel through time. At some point in the game Lunais is able to travel between the past and the future (the present is pretty much ruined so she cannot go there) and progressing in the past does affect the future. Her other time related ability is temporarily freezing it. Lunais is able to freeze time for a short period to evade enemies, bosses and debris or use them as platforms. The catch is she is not able to damage enemies while they are frozen. This means Lunais has a meter for Health, Magic and Time Stop.
The third part of the gameplay are the side-quests. As mentioned Lunais will meet a group of allies on her journey who will help her via shops or reward her after completing their requests. These range from the basic fetch quests, gathering data or destroying a set number of enemies or boss. While not all of them are necessary to complete the game they are worth going through as players get to learn more about the characters, the world’s history and lore, how it affected them and how they were able to cope (or try to in some cases). Besides data logs players can find memory fragments (they look like blue spheres) that serve to explain the history of Lunais’ people and also learn some secrets about herself.
Readers will have noticed in the Themes section that I mentioned “LGBT” and not Yuri and/or Yaoi as I usually do in reviews. That is because in this game every one of the four letters is represented through some of the characters. I will not spoil who has which sexual preference or gender identity but what I can say is that most of them went through hard times not because of who they are/were but because of politics, religious beliefs and which side they followed during the war. Their love lives were mostly separate matters and I think most of the characters representing one of the letters were well written. Do not expect anything deep though. Just know they are all taken seriously and have good development.
Lastly there are three endings. Two of them depend on the choices made near the end of the game. The True End requires a bit more searching near the end to unlock the route towards it.
Overall Timespinner is a good game that I would recommend to fans of the Metroidvania sub-genre of action-platformers. The presentation is nice, gameplay is good, story and setting are good enough to keep players invested and there is some nice LGBT representation throughout. The game is available digitally for the PC (Via Steam or the Timespinner homepage HERE), PS4 and PS Vita/TV. No Nintendo Switch port announced yet but I would not be surprised if it eventually gets one.